How to Apply for Unemployment in Washington, D.C.

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on March 26, 2020

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Unemployment benefits can help see you through the coronavirus crisis if you lose your job.

Unemployment benefits can help see you through the coronavirus crisis if you lose your job. 

The novel coronavirus has caused a widespread shutdown of economic activity in most parts of the U.S. Many Americans are expected to experience a job loss. If you're one of them, unemployment benefits could help ensure you still have money in the bank.

If you've lost your job in the nation's capital, this guide can help you get the benefits you need.

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

Unemployment benefits in Washington D.C. are available if you meet certain work history requirements and:

  • It wasn't your fault you lost your job
  • You're willing to accept work suitable for you based on your career and education history
  • You're physically capable of working
  • You make at least two contacts per week seeking employment
  • You make a continuing effort to get a job using an appropriate method for your industry

If you provide documentation showing that your unemployment is related to the coronavirus pandemic, then you don't have to actively seek work to qualify for unemployment benefits. You'll also be able to qualify if you're unable to work due to a COVID-19 quarantine or self-isolation order.

The work history requirements are based on how often you worked and how much you earned during a "base period." This is a 12-month period covering a specific time frame depending on when you claim unemployment. For example:

  • If you file for benefits in January, February, or March, your base period is the 12-month period before Sept. 30.
  • If you file in April, May, or June, your base period is the 12-month period before Dec. 31.
  • If you file in July, August, or September, your base period is the 12-month period before March 31.
  • If you file in October, November, or December, your base period is the 12-month period before June 30. 

You must have earned wages during at least two quarters of your base period, and combined wages during the full base period must add up to at least $1,950. You must also have earned at least $1,300 during a single quarter in your base period, and total wages earned during your base period must not be less than $70 below one-and-a-half times the wages earned in your highest quarter.

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

Those seeking unemployment are encouraged to file online and can do so at To file:

  • Log into or create an account
  • Click "Claim Unemployment Benefits"
  • Click "File for Benefits" within the Unemployment Insurance Service Center
  • Scroll down and choose "File your Claim On-Line"

You'll need to provide basic information when completing the online claim form, including: 

  • Your Social Security number and Alien Registration number if you aren't a citizen
  • The name, address, and telephone number of the most recent employer you've worked for within the past 30 days
  • The dates you worked
  • Your DD214 (certificate of discharge) if you are leaving the military or your Standard Form 8 or 50 if you worked for the federal government
  • Details about any severance pay or pension income you'll receive

How much money will I receive in unemployment benefits?

You will receive a weekly benefit equal to 1/26th of your wages during the quarter of the base period when you earned the most. If you earned $9,000 during that quarter, benefits would equal $346. There's also a maximum benefit limit of $444 per week. 

How long can I collect unemployment benefits?

You can receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks total in Washington, D.C. However, the CARES Act extends that period by 13 weeks, allowing you to collect unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks.

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

If your unemployment claim is denied, you can file an appeal with the Appeals Unit of the Office of Unemployment Compensation. You can find the appeals forms here:

Include a copy of the decision you're appealing when submitting the form. Once it's received, a hearing will be scheduled that you can attend to appeal your claim denial.

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